Boating accident in Biloxi puts safety in the spotlight

Boating accident in Biloxi puts safety in the spotlight
As the summer season begins to pick up, safety is now in the spotlight with a boat accident Saturday after a fishing tournament in Biloxi.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A boat accident at the Biloxi Bay Bridge Saturday night required four people to be rescued - one with a serious head injury.

As the fishing season begins to pick up, boat safety is in the spotlight. Now is the time to be warned.

"Your danger is going to go up when it's a high traffic area with boats," said Battalion Chief Stephen Strickler with the Biloxi Fire Department.

Strickler has worked a lot of boating accidents in his 30 years. "When the weather starts to get nice, everybody gets excited to get out there to the islands and fish, and that is when the traffic picks up," he said. "When traffic picks up, we have to be more aware."

Saturday night's incident is being investigated by the Department of Marine Resources Marine Patrol.

The son of one of the people rescued from the water tells WLOX News Now Weekend that the boat was coming back from the Gorenflo's Cobia Shoot Out.

He said all but one person was flung from the boat after it hit the bridge. Eye witness Heather Eason described hearing screams of horror, calling the scene bone chilling.

Michael Reinhart is a boating veteran. And he sees the danger as the traffic increases. "I think most of the people out there on the water don't really know the safety rules, you know what I'm saying?" he said. "A lot of people don't know how to be safe."

He added that people need to make sure they check equipment before heading out and have safety equipment at the ready. "A lot of stuff can happen," Reinhart said. "So, the best thing to do is just be vigilant out there."

Allen Simmons has competed in fishing tournaments in the past. He said the competition can create a dangerous situation if not managed well. "Got to hurry. Got to get there before the fish leave or, before somebody else beats me," he said. "So, common courtesy is, of course, gone.

"My tip is just slow down," he added. "The fish are going to be there. Either you're going to catch them or not. I mean, it just depends on your skill level."

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